Sunday Blessings 169

(1) So many sweet compliments at Curves about how great I look

(2) A sweet message from a parishioner who is reading my book. Thanks LB.

(3) A kind comment about my current blog post. Thanks JH!

(4) Having my first guest submission to a website accepted!!!

(5) Prepping for this weeks #slatespeak convo and everything you’re reading is lining up with the topic

(6) Talking with one of my very faves. Thanks MW!

(7) #fmfsnailmailparty mail

(8) A new LLR Irma. Thanks CN!

(9) Time with two of my faves; EG and KG

(10) Moderating #SlateSpeak and being blessed by the entire experience.

(11) Still loving Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road.

(12) Chatting with a friend I haven’t talked to in a long time.

(13) Chatting with CT

(14) Twinings Lemon and Ginger tea

(15) Talking with my daddy

(16) KL’s Senior Recital

(17) Talking with my Aunt N

(18) Great Confirmation banquet

(19) Flowers shared across the miles from a friend.

(20) A beautiful Spring Day

More Goodness

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “more.” I love spending time with this crew, but missed being with them last night as I was moderating the #slatespeak conversation. I love the communities I have found online; both FMF and SlateSpeak love me for who God created to be and I always feel like I belong there.

Sometimes the world can seem dark and lonely or that it is full of so much hatred and war. I find myself looking to find more of the good stuff. So here is a poem that formed in my heart, soul and mind last night and into today.

By Tara L. Ulrich

More love
Less hate

More beauty
Less ugliness

More peace
Less war

More flowers blooming
More laughter

More joy
Less sorrow

More time with friends
who always show you that you belong.

More words that give  life
and don’t tear down

More words that embody the gospel
“to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly”

More hope
More peace

More light
No darkness

More sunsets and sunrises
A constant reminder of God’s goodness

More of hearing and knowing each other’s stories
For our hearts are more entertwined than we could ever imagine.

More little ones who are carefree
and remind us that God calls us to trust.

More of the goodness of the world
Found in the gift
Of love, laughter, tears and friendship


Life, Death and Resurrection

On Good Friday, Jesus hung on the cross; blood dripping from the places where he was nailed to the cross. His mourning mother looking on as he took his final breath. The final breath lingered in the air as the crowd stood looking upon their beloved Jesus. The darkness of the night encapsulated all as they grieved.

After awhile, they carefully took down Jesus’ body and wrapped him in burial clothes. They carried him to the tomb where they placed him. Like the manger, where the new born baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes, this 30 year old son now too was laid to rest; the tomb; his perceived final resting place.

Three days later, the women came to the tomb. The stench of death should have suffocated these women as they went to open the tomb. But there was no stench and the tomb was empty. The stone had been rolled away. Jesus was risen. God had shown God’s power and that life not death and light not darkness had the final word.

This is a promise that we all want to cling too. But sometimes life throws us things we don’t understand. A person is stricken with an illness and there seem to be no answers in sight. Or a transition comes about that we never expected. Whatever the reason, life has this way of throwing obstacles at us; obstacles that we so desperately search to understand in the midst of life’s joys and sorrows.

In the past weeks, I have sat and listened to the hum of the machines in an ICU; noises that permeate the loudness and darkness of the world. I have prayed and prayed, with what seems to be no avail, to give friends and family hope in the midst of their own darkness, anxiety and sorrows. I have wiped tears away as friends and family have grieved.

And as I have listened to the silence of the machines or watched my friends/family seeking to feel better and to see the light again, I have also wondered where the hope of the resurrection promise is. I find myself desperately seeking those resurrection moments in my every day life.

Resurrection is the promise that life not death and light not darkness will have the final word. But in this broken world, it can be almost impossible, at times, to see life being born out of death; to see light being born out of darkness. Because dead people are not suppose to come back to life. Death is a permanent part of life.

Yet it is in Jesus’ death, a death that was brought about by the emperor that we find ourselves clinging to the very cross that Jesus hung on. With my hands curled tightly around the cross, I don’t want to let go. Yet in letting go, God reminds us that we are never alone; that God will never leave us or forsake us. God loves us that much.

The reality of life is that every day, a new baby lets out their first breathe while another soul takes their final breathe. The circle of life encompasses life and death, light and darkness, joy and sorrow. And in each of those moments, God’s love runs through the courses of our veins.

In the beating of our hearts, through the blood coursing through our veins and through every breathe, I continually find myself clinging to the promises found in the book of Romans. For me, it is these words that remind me of Easter, the resurrection promise and that we are never alone. And it is because of this promise, that I will do my very best to never leave anyone behind.

“If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords.”–Romans 14:8

Linking up with these lovely ladies–Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.

Sunday Blessings 168

(1) Easter Monday day off

(2) Winning a prize in one of the LLR groups Im a part of and picking out a new Irma!!

(3) A Vox from KA

(4) Time with Auntie P

(5) Starbucks Pink Drink

(6) Yummy Blue Apron meal

(7) Migrating my blog from blogger to a self-hosted site. Thanks to Dan at FistBump Media.

(8) Minot Story Hour

(9) A nice PLN

(10) Eleven years of being consecrated as a Diaconal minister in the ELCA

(11) Sunday hugs from some of my favs kiddos

(12) Driving to Garrison with KG and DL

(13) Awesome mole chili from Blue Apron

A Sepia World

Before you know it, the darkness closes in and it’s hard to see anything. You search and feel for any sense of light in the midst of the walls of the storm clouds building up all around you. You are grasping for air as you are being suffocated by the storm closing in around you. You can’t hear anything as the thunder grows louder and louder. Everything that was once in color is harder to see.

The world no longer looks like a color film. It’s now in hues of sepia and black and white. You yearn to know that their is vibrancy in the darkness. That the colors of the flowers and the tress will come into full focus again. But this wall of clouds is still closing in around you. And the noises are only getting louder.

Watching my mom live with a mental illness and watching friends suffer with depression and anxiety hearts my heart. This is what I picture their worlds to be like; yearning to see the color again and knowing that this storm cloud can build up around you at anytime. Depression is an evil cunning effective liar. And together we must show each other truth.

The truth is that we are not on this journey alone. With a crayon in my hand, my hand moves across the picture adding green to the trees, blue to the sky, and filling in the colors wherever I can. In addition, I’ll stand in those storm clouds with you; blocking you from whatever debris I can.

Before we know it, the clouds will clear and the movie of life will come back into color with full focus. The storm will come again. And then the world will return to sepia and black and white. But together, this liar of depression will not win. It will be crushed by life, hope, and love in this broken world. And the world will no longer be in hues of sepia but filled with the    diversity of colors the world has to offer us all.

What Makes Your Heart Sing?

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “sing.” I love spending time with this crew. They bless me beyond words. We’d love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! And by the way, you may have noticed some changes to this space. Thanks to Dan at FistBump Media! 

The words are exuberantly song by the children. Some are waving vigorously trying to get the attention of at mom, dad and grandparents. Others are trying to pull their dress up over their head. Little boys are poking each other. Yet the words of the gospel are proudly sung as they sing loudly.

Kids have this way of teaching us so much. The lesson is that God doesn’t really care how we sound. God wants us to proudly sing his praises. I will admit that I am not a great singer. In fact, I really cant even carry a tune in a bucket. Yet I love singing along to the radio.

My favorite song comes onto the radio and I crank the volume up on the radio.  I then sing at the top of my lungs. Lately, it has been jamming out to Ellie Holcomb’s new album Red Sea Road. (Seriously people pick it up, I promise you wont be disappointed.)

This last week, we proclaimed Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Allelulia. In the changing of seasons, as signs of new life are all around us, hosannas permeate the air as we trust in the promise of the resurrection. Through the Easter promise, we sing our Hosannas and declare that we are Easter people; that we are Hosanna people.

As Hosanna people, God promises to never leave us or forsake us. God gives us each different gifts and abilities. I love spending time cuddling with an infant (Emma, I seriously wanted to crawl through my phone to snuggle your new son) I love writing and words. These are just a few things that make my heart sing.

Sunday Blessings 167

(1) A sweet thank you note

(2) Stepping on the scale and seeing that it’s three pounds less.

(3) Zumba with the Zumba crew at Curves

(4) Getting my Easter dress in the mail

(5) Time with KL at one of our fave places.

(6) Running into an old camp friend. So good to see you JW!

(7) Twinings Lemon and Ginger Tea

(8) Texting with one of my faves. You’re the best MW!

(9) Qdoba–I haven’t had it in so long!

(10) A call from CM

(11) Maundy Thursday

(12) A surprise Easter package from my auntie!

(13) Lunch with KB and her friend R

(14) A much needed Spring rain

(15) Peach-pear LaCroix (my new fave)

(16) The sweet smell of rain

(17) Easter at FLC

(18) Easter dinner at a parishioners house

(19) Easter leftovers sent home with me

(20) Praying through my FB friends list as my Lenten discipline. It was such an honor to pray for you all.

(21) Success of my Easter children’s sermon

(22) Family and friends=YOU!!!

Easter and Resurrection Hope

On Good Friday, our Christ died on the cross. On Easter Saturday, we lingered at the cross. As we lingered, we waited; waited and grieved. Our beloved Jesus is dead. We are clinging to darkness and despair and death. It seems that we are stuck here. Yet today we are reminded of the Easter promise of good news; of light, hope and life.

Trumpet fanfare, the Hallelujah chorus proudly being sung, lillies blooming all around us. Easter has arrived! The tomb is empty. Jesus is no longer there. And light not darkness, hope not despair and life not death have the final word.

Easter shows us that death doesn’t stay in the grave; that resurrection is possible. Yet there are times in our lives when we can’t see the resurrection promise. We grasp to hold onto whatever we can; to give us a glimmer of hope.

I sat with my mom several years ago as she laid in her ICU room. The buzz of the machines humming all around us. Mom is there, but yet she isnt. I am grasping onto every little sign of hope that I can; a slight movement, a muffled sound, anything. It seems that there is no hope in sight, but then one day she wakes up. She isn’t ever the same again, but she has regrained her health. Resurrection hope embodied!

Friends who daily struggle to find the light in the midst of their darkness of depression and mental illnesses. They are grasping onto whatever hope they can find. There are days the darkness is so overwhelming. The hope is stifled when it seems there is no end to the pain and despair. Yet one day they wake up and find themselves feeling better. Another sign that light, hope and life do indeed have the final word.

In the rubble of the Haiti earthquake, resurrection also bursts forth as they continue to rebuild. Out of death is born a new relationship and out of that relationship, new life continues to grow.

There are so many days when it is hard to find the light. We grieve the losses of our lives. But then we run to the tomb and find the tomb empty. Jesus is supposed to be there, but he is not there. In finding the empty tomb, we know that resurrection is indeed possible. And because it is possible, we trust and know that light not darkness, hope not despair, and life not death have the ultimate word. We see that beauty can come from ashes; that God can redeem our brokenness as he makes beautiful things out of dust; out of us.

From the table, to the cross, to the empty tomb, there is hope. There is light. There is life. And as we proclaim in the resurrection we know we can proudly declare, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” Christ is risen and together we run to tell everyone about this amazing gift; the gift of God’s son sent not to condemn the world, but to save it. The gift of a savior who was born to bring hope, light, joy and life.

“Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”–Psalm 30:5

And today, my friends, it may seem like you are in a season of weeping, but joy will come again. Christ promises that joy to each of us. Easter breaks forth from the weeping and the darkness of Good Friday, to the empty tomb and joy bursts forth into this broken world.

I am linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.  


Linger at the Cross

The world is dark! Flashes of lightening and thunder bolt across the sky. The sounds of his mother sobbing uncontrollably penetrating the air. Jesus is gone. All of us surrounded by darkness; a darkness that closes in all around us.

This is not a place I want to linger, but it is an important part of this beloved story. Every day, darkness finds its way in this broken world; the darkness of mental illness, the darkness of racism, the darkness of so much. I find myself grasping to find the light,

Several years ago, I sat with my mom as she lay in the ICU. My hand holding hers as I waited for sone sort of sign from her. The hum of the machines buzzing all around us. Mom laid in that bed for two weeks. I’d sit with her, chatting with her and yearning for some glimmer of hope. Then one day, she woke up. In her waking up, hope and light broke forth from the darkness.

Since that day, nothing has been the same. I find myself sitting today, sitting in the darkness with my friends and family. This darkness is a reminder of what Christ did for us; because of the sin of the world. Sin that comes in doubt, anger, death, betrayal, hate, addiction, guilt and in so many other ways. We are all guilty of these very sins,

It can be so easy to move past the cross and the darkness, but today we must linger there. With uncontrollable sobs, we grieve –grieve that Christ had to die because of our sins; because of the world’s brokenness.

The sun will shine again, but not before darkness covers the earth after Jesus breathes his last. Sunday is coming! But first, let’s linger at the foot of the cross joining our voices with the prophets of old knowing that “Easter says you can put death in the grave but it won’t stay there (Clarence W Hall).”

The Empty Cross

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “empty.” I love spending time with this crew. They bless me beyond words. We’d love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there!

Judas and Peter sat with Jesus at the table. Even knowing that one would betray him and the other would deny him, Jesus still stoops down and washes their feet. It is an incredible act of love. From that meal, we move to Good Friday.

It is dark. Jesus is stretched out on the cross; his hands and feet nailed to that very cross. A crown of thorns on his head. In this moment, we see that the authorities have won and Jesus is about to take his last breath. But not before, Jesus looks to his mother. I can imagine a single tear in her eye as she says good bye to her beloved son. Then he breaths his last. The silence penetrating the darkness. Blood dripping from both his hands and his side. Blood shed for all of us!

Slowly, Jesus is taken down from the cross, wrapped in burial cloth and placed in the tomb. The stone is rolled in front of the tomb. They leave Jesus in peace and walk away. Three days later, the women come to the tomb and are surprised by what they see. This man–Jesus–who was oppressed and sent to die on the cross is no longer there. In this moment, we are awakened to God’s power as life not death and light not darkness have the final word.

Yet we cannot come to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday without experiencing the entire road to the cross. We must stand on the road as Jesus rides in on his donkey. We must sit with him and break bread together. We must watch as he breaths his last on Good Friday. Without any of this journey, the empty tomb doesn’t make sense!

So today, feel,, listen, and experience the depth of what Christ did for all of the world. Then on Easter Sunday, come to the tomb and find it empty as Jesus epicly has been risen from the grave. And proudly shout “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Allelulia.” And watch as new life springs forth all around us: flowers blooming, butterflies waking, and so many other signs.

But most of all, see the empty cross; the promise of God’s love for this broken world.